Hi Mike, Some good news, both kittens are now ok with being held. They don't scratch or anything when I pick them up. The only problem I have now is that when I let them roam around them apartment, I have a hard time "catching" them again. Although they aren't scared when I hold them, they do run away if I let them explore and attempt to get them.
How do I desensitize them from "being caught." I dont want them to always run away when someone attempts to pick them up. How will I adopt them out if they always hide when someone attempts to pick them up?
Dear Diana, I like to keep a pen set up and continue to feed them in the pen even after I'm leaving the door wide open for them to come and go exploring life out in the household. They will continue to go in and wait for food at meal times like clockwork if you maintain a regular schedule. This way, I can handle them without chasing after them which always gets them worked up in a negative way. When the pen is still there as home base, they often feel safest in the pen and will go in and out many times per day without hesitation.
Also, you need to break up the routine to make them more relaxed in all areas of the house. On alternate days you can try feeding them in new places around the house where they must come to you and submit to being petted which eventually will lead to them being desensitized to being picked up without any incentive except affection in all places of the house. Maybe just a few special treats before mealtime when they are really hungry will achieve this.
Also you should introduce them to as many new people as possible. In preparation for this space out their meals so they will be very hungry at the time of the new person's visit. I'd lure them with food of a toy into a pen before a new person comes into the house. This way you won't be chasing after them in a panic if they hide when a new person comes into the house. Then let the new person feed them and pet them while they eat in the cage. If they do well with this, after a few times with a stranger you can try lifting them out and being held with a stranger present.
You should do the holding the first couple times. Having a stranger there will probably be enough of a "new thing" for them and you can work up to a stranger "adopter" pick them up. First, I'd try just having the stranger feed them in your lap and maybe work up to petting. If all that goes well you can put them calmly and securely into the person's lap with treats or baby food on hand and hunger on your side. If you work up to all of these things methodically the kittens will adjust to each new level as you raise the bar. Prepare the strangers well in advance so they know not to make any fast moves, gush with baby talk or make any sudden jarring moves. Ask them to watch part 2 of the You Tube video if you think they can't sit through all three parts. If the kittens get away from you just let them hide and don't enlist the help of a stranger to try to confine them. Thank the person for being willing to help but insist that you need to let the kittens calm down and be confined again before trying again. The kittens will quickly bounce back to where they were before the new visitor came IF you don't chase after them or insist that they be dragged out to continue the session right away. If they are calm with you, try luring them out with food or just ignore them for awhile until they forget about the incident.
Hang in there, you'll get them adopted!
Follow up one month later:
just wanted to let you know that I let the kittens out for about two weeks and like you said, they got along with the other cats just fine. on sunday, we found a woman that was interested in adopting the pair, but asked to foster them for a month first. so sunday night, they met their new foster parents. so far so good, they have a pretty big apartment so I'm relieved that they have more room to run and play. I'm glad that they have each other.
I never thought I would miss them so much, but it's been three days and I really miss them. it's too bad my apartment is so small, or else I would've loved to keep them.